Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National leadership to better protect Australia’s children

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister

New measures to improve information sharing between the Australian Government and State and Territory child protection agencies were agreed to today by the Council of Australian Governments.

The Federal Government is leading the way in providing greater protection for children by helping to remove barriers to sharing information in child protection cases between and within jurisdictions.

The Australian Government will include Centrelink in the national child protection alert system. A new national protocol will be developed for Centrelink to release information to child protection agencies to help locate children at serious risk of abuse and neglect when their whereabouts are unknown.

Often basic information – like a current address – can be very important in these cases.

The new arrangements will:

  • specify the information that can be requested from Commonwealth agencies;
  • set out a standard process for requesting information, including authorisation, to reflect legal obligations;
  • specify what supporting information, or evidence, is required for a request; and
  • include timeframes for responding to information requests – particularly important during investigations.

The incidence of child abuse has reached alarming levels. Every year, there are nearly 60,000 cases of Australian children being harmed, abused or neglected.

These appalling figures demand a determined, concerted response from all levels of government. This is a national problem that requires a national response.

The new protocol will be developed for information sharing between Centrelink and child protection agencies by the end of 2008 and will be operational in 2009.

Improved information sharing between and within jurisdictions is a key element of the Australian Government’s National Child Protection framework.

The Government is committed to providing national leadership to protect Australia’s children. A National Child Protection Framework is key to the Government’s child-centred approach to family policy.

Our greatest responsibility is to protect our children, wherever they live.